Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Manual Tutorial #2 ~ Introduction into the 3 Main Components of Exposure

In this post, I am going to briefly introduce the three main components of exposure.  If you haven't read Tutorial #1 yet, start here.  If you are up to date on previous posts, continue on my friend.

I am normally a pretty modest person, so I don't know why trying to explain photography keeps leading me to discussing topics that are making me blush!  Let's see if we can keep this tutorial out of the gutter so to speak :)

Three Components of Exposure  
ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture

Remember these charts from school?  I know, I hated them too... but I think it gives a good visual representation of how these three are related.  When you make a change to one of the components, you will have to adjust one or both of the others as well.

ISO ~ This is how sensitive the camera is to light.  The lower the number, the lower the sensitivity.  The higher the number, the higher the sensitivity.  For example.  If the sun is shining bright, you will want to use a low number like 100 or 200.  If you are inside the house or shooting outdoors on a cloudy day, your number will be higher.  As I've said before, I do not leave this setting on automatic.  I manually set it based on what I think will be my approximate settings and adjust from there.  I've had more than my fair share of photos ruined because my camera jacked up the ISO and I forgot to check.  If I have to adjust it, I am always responsible for the settings.

Shutter Speed ~ This is how fast or slow your shutter opens.  Think of your eye.  When you blink quickly, not much light enters your eye.  But when you open your eye and leave it open for a while, much more light enters.  When there is a lot of light available, you can set your shutter speed fast... this is good for sports, movement, quick toddlers... but when there is dim lighting, your shutter speed will need to be slower (leaving your "eye" open longer to allow more light to enter).  But with this comes the possibility of blurry photos.  As a general rule of thumb, if you are hand holding your camera, you do not want to have your shutter speed lower than 1/60 sec.  And that is just for camera shake.  If you have something moving, it will be blurry with such a slow shutter speed.

Aperture ~ Think of this as the pupil of your eye.  When you go into a dark room, your pupil dilates (gets larger) to capture more light.  When you step out into the sun, your pupil constricts (gets super small) to minimize the amount of light entering your eye.  Now this is the part that confused me to no end.  A higher aperture (letting in more light) is actually a lower f-stop number.  If you want to restrict the light, you would use a higher f-stop number.  There is something else that plays into this and that is depth of field.  The f-stop number you choose will determine your depth of field.  This is that natural blur that you see in photographs that when mastered can create visually pleasing and gorgeous photos.

If your head is spinning, don't worry.  I will go into each one of these individually and walk you through them.

Homework for Tutorial #2

Put your camera in Manual Mode.  Do not worry about having a properly exposed photograph at this point.  I just want you to listen to your camera.  Set your shutter speed to 1/8th of a second (which is very slow) and press the shutter.  Now set your shutter speed to 1/500th of a second.  Can you hear the difference?  What do you think is happening in each of the shutter speeds.  Which one will have more light entering and which one will have less light?

Continue forward to ISO

Capturing the Moment <3


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Manual Tutorial #1 ~ Becoming Intimate with your Camera

Don't worry, we will keep this tutorial PG rated (okay G rated)... but there is a level of intimacy you need to learn and become comfortable with your camera.  I once read that the test to see if you truly know your camera is to take it into a dark room and be able to manage the settings.  When I first read this I laughed out loud... I mean really laughed out loud... because I could barely understand my settings with the lights on, let alone in a dark room.

Let's compare the relationship you have with your camera to the relationship you have with someone you are dating.  When you go on a first date, it is often clumsy, awkward, and tense.  As you begin to establish a relationship, you start to know their likes/dislikes and what makes them laugh.  When your relationship moves to a more serious level such as engagement or marriage, you often feel lost without your partner.... as if your hand was made to wrap around their hand, and your heart becomes connected to their heart ~ you become one...

Nothing Better to depict L.O.V.E. better than HEARTS
© Corrie M Avila

This is the level of intimacy I am talking about.  When you first enter the world of photography, the camera feels heavy in your hand, you don't understand any of the settings (let alone how to turn the camera on and off), and trying to take photos becomes a stressful experience rather than an enjoyable one.  As you become more seasoned with your camera, you practice techniques, have a lot of trial and error, become frustrated, but always fall back in love.  When you and your camera move into a deeper level with each other, there is a moment of intimacy where there is no distinction between the casing of the camera body and your hand.  The lens becomes an extension of your eye and performs exactly how you want it to.  This is the moment where you and your camera are one.

Where are you at in your relationship with your camera?  Your homework for Tutorial #1 is to locate where on your camera these three settings are:
  1. aperature
  2. shutter speed (f/stop)
  3. ISO
If you have an owner's manual, pull it out.  If you don't have one, look it up online and bookmark the webpage.  You are going to need it.

When you feel comfortable moving forward ~ move on to the second tutorial here.

Capturing the Moment

Corrie <3

Monday, January 14, 2013

Anyone Else out there Dealing with the Winter Crud??

It has been non~stop over here with cooties, cooties, and more cooties.  And no, I don't mean the game cooties.  It seems like as soon as one kid gets over being sick, a day or two later it is the other one.  Back and forth like a twisted game of tennis.  It is unseasonably warm here in the Washington DC, Northern Virginia area, but I have not been able to get out with my camera due to the black plague (slight over exaggeration) that has fallen on our house.

On a more positive note, I wanted to share with you a photo I took a week ago of my favorite American Bald Eagle.  The pair was there but by the time I grabbed my camera and changed my lens, there was only one.  I am learning with taking photos of the Bald Eagles in this tree, I have to over-expose my shot, otherwise it ends up being too dark.  What does this mean?  Well, if you are looking at your light meter, your camera "thinks" that when your cursor is in the center, it is a perfectly exposed shot.  This is a good place to start, but it is not always accurate.  Certain lighting situations require you to put that cursor a stop (one number -1) to the left (underexposing it) or a stop (one number +1) to the right (overexposing it).  I will go into this in greater detail with the tutorial I am putting together for learning how to shoot in manual.

American Bald Eagle
January 2013 
ISO 100 ~ 300mm ~ f/13 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

If you are interested in obtaining FREE Facebook cover page photos, head over to Traveling Hearts Photography on Facebook!  First "like" the page and then comment on which one you want and I will send it your way.  (This photo above of the bald eagle is included.)

Hoping you are not battling the Winter Crud as badly as we have over here... but if so, know that you are not alone!  I raise my can of lysol to you and say "cheers!"  <3

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Creative Pay it Forward 2013

I've joined the 2013 Creative Pay it Forward via Diamonds, Dog Tags & Diapers.

The first five people to comment with their email and blog address (if they have one) will receive a handmade item (made by me) at some point this year.  It will be unexpected and a surprise!  The catch is that you, in return, must post this on your blog (or facebook page) and do the same thing for 5 other people.

A Cherished Handmade Gift I Received Just Yesterday
ISO 100 ~ 60mm ~ f/4.5 ~ 1/250 sec
© Corrie M Avila

I received two other handmade gifts over the holidays from two of my dearest friends and those gifts and the thoughtfulness mean the world to me.  I can't think of a better way to put a smile on someone's face and pay it forward <3

Capturing the Moment,

Corrie <3

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Let me ask you a personal question...

Don't be mad.  Don't be offended.... I feel like we've known each other for a while now and it is time to get it all out in the open and ask "THE" question....

What settings do you use on your camera??  
There I asked it....  Phew... 

Instagram Photo
© Corrie M Avila

I don't know why, but for some reason this seems to be such a personal question.  When I first started taking photos I used the presets.  I would move my little dial around to match the icon with what I was taking a photo of.  This wasn't because I was super happy with the results.... it was because I didn't understand the technical part of the camera.  I was overwhelmed with the settings and it all seemed to be in another language.  I read books, watched tutorials, had my husband explain it to me with drawings and everything... but I still could not figure it out.  I became REALLY frustrated because I knew what I wanted to do composition wise, but I never EVER was able to achieve the results I wanted.

Then one day I meet a photographer who offers to help (insert angels singing and rays of light shining down on this moment :).  Little did she know I would take her up on it (buahahaha).  Seriously though, she has been a God-send.  We planned a photo day and I remember sitting together on a rock near a river.  We both had our cameras out.... she would tell me what settings she was using and then I put my camera to the same settings.  She walked me through it step by step and showed the patience of a saint. I would not be where I am today if it were not for her.  So now I am paying it forward.

I will be starting a series of tutorials on how to shoot in "M" (manual) mode.  I personally use a Canon, but the basics are the same whether you have a Canon, a Nikon, or something else.  I hope to explain the basics of your camera to you in an easy to understand way.

I did not get the full concept immediately.  I took what I learned that day home with me and practiced.  I remember the exact moment I took a photo completely in manual mode.  I was sitting on my couch watching my son play with his toy truck on the coffee table.  The light was shining though the window on the truck and was creating a reflection on the table.  I grabbed my camera, gritted my teeth, and gave it a whirl.  It took a few shots to achieve the look I was going for, but I did it :)  I'm not gonna lie, I did a little dance!  And just like that... everything clicked and I had my lightbulb moment.  My hope is that you will have yours as well.

My Son's Toy Truck and My FIRST Manually Exposed Photograph :)
ISO 2500 ~ 75mm ~ f/11 ~ 1/20 sec
© Corrie M Avila

If you don't know what those settings mean now, you will by the time we finish the tutorials.  Basically, I still had no idea what my ISO should be (so I left it in automatic ~ hence the number of 2500).  It should really be no higher than 200 in this situation.  And my aperture (f-stop) should be a much smaller number... This photograph is raw in it's chemical make-up ~ with a high ISO, a too small aperture, and highlights that are blown out... but it is mine :)  Everyone has to start somewhere and this is my pride and glory.

Now it's time to buckle up, sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy the ride!  I look forward to starting this journey with you all <3

Capturing the Moment

Corrie <3